NIU Head Coach Rod Carey announced Tuesday that Northern Illinois will push the beginning of its 2013 spring football practices back one week due to unseasonably cold weather. The Huskies, whose new indoor practice facility, the Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center, is currently under construction just steps from Huskie Stadium, will hold the first of its 15 spring practices on Wednesday, March 27 instead of March 20.
"Our team was a little disappointed when we told them today, because they're ready to get out there, but the delay really won't affect us too much," Carey said. "We can look out the window and see the Chessick Center going up and know that this is the last spring we'll have to adjust for the weather, which is tremendous."
Northern Illinois will still play its Spring Game on Saturday, April 13 at 2:30 p.m. at Huskie Stadium. Prior to the Spring Game, NIU will hold "SpringFest 2013," a pregame tailgate party featuring live music, activities for kids and food and beverages from local vendors available for purchase, on the West Side of Huskie Stadium. There is no charge to attend SpringFest or the Spring Game, and parking in the lots around the stadium, is free. Promotional materials, including posters and schedule cards, will be available for pick-up. Prior to the game, Northern Illinois will raise a flag commemorating its 2013 Orange Bowl appearance and there will be an on-field ring ceremony.
Season tickets for the 2013 season will be on sale at the Spring Game. The new Huskieland Plan, which includes a ticket to all five home games (sections A and G) and $50 in Doggie Dollars good for parking and/or concessions, is just $50. All remaining season ticket locations for the 2013 Huskie Stadium home slate are just $100 while NIU Alumni Association members, senior citizens (62+), youth (3-13), NIU Varsity Club (former letterwinners) members and faculty and staff can see every game for just $88.
In general, practices, which are open to the public, will be held Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at Huskie Stadium with the weekday sessions getting underway between 3:20 and 3:50 p.m. Saturday's practice times will vary. For the tentative schedule of NIU spring practices, see below. Times, dates and locations are subject to change. Changes will be posted on the NIU Huskies Facebook page and sent out via @NIUAthletics on Twitter, as well as posted on Northern Illinois Athletics "Huskie Happenings" blog at NIUHuskies.com.
Carey also announced that the first "Huskie Bowl" will be played on Saturday, April 20 at Huskie Stadium to close out spring practices. Head coaches Joe Tripodi and Kevin Kane will "draft" players onto the Cardinal (Tripodi) or Black (Kane) teams and the staff, except for coordinators Bob Cole and Jay Niemann, will be split between the two squads. Throughout the final week of practice, the staffs will coach their teams in preparation for Saturday's Huskie Bowl. Cole and Niemann will work with the offense and defense, respectively, for both teams. For extra incentive, the winning Huskie Bowl team will enjoy a steak dinner, while the losers will eat hot dogs and beans.
"The Huskie Bowl is going to give some juice to that last week of spring ball," Carey said. "We'll still have the Spring Game, and that's going to be a controlled scrimmage, as it has been in the past. We were going to do both on the same day, but the new schedule gave us a chance to split those two. If you want to have some fun to end spring ball, you have to get competitive and roll the ball out there."
April 13 also marks the last day of the NIU Huskies Legacy Brick Campaign, which provides fans an opportunity to become a permanent part of the new Kenneth and Ellen Chessick Practice Center entranceway. Fan bricks will fill the Yordon Family Huskie Pride Plaza, which will serve as the entrance to both the Yordon and Chessick Centers. Personalized bricks can be purchased online at NIUHuskies.com/fanbricks with prices starting at $200. Each brick comes with a keepsake replica which fans can display in their home or office.